Saturday, May 16, 2009

Adventures in Parking

As a bus driver, I am expected to maneuver the bus into some pretty tight spaces. Often, I find myself in situations where parents seemingly block my access to an area where I need to be, or they tend to tailgate the bus, which then creates several traffic problems. While I don’t mind if parents follow the bus in order to get to a destination, I do wish that parents would tend to think a little bit ahead of the bus and be courteous if we have to turn around in tight spaces.

With that said, I took the local third grade classes to the Museum of Science and History in a nearby town. It was about a 2-hour drive, and quite pleasant up until the major construction on the road and massive traffic towards the city. I had been assigned this field trip in early October, so I had been looking forward to this field trip all year. We arrive at the museum without incident and I pull around a tight roundabout and pull into the museum driveway. The driveway leads into a small circle and is bordered by the museum on the right, a park at the head of the circle and a fairly large parking lot on the left. The intersection the museum sits on can be best described as a lowercase “t” with a circle at the top of the “t” and a circle where the two lines intersect.

Anyhow, I pull up and around the intersection and stop to unload children in front of the museum. Mind you, every OTHER bus had done this as well. Unfortunately, the parents following me had created a bottleneck situation in the intersection. My tail end was out of the intersection and NOT blocking traffic. They called Security to tell me to move. I simply told Security that I would move when we were done unloading the children. The teachers took their sweet time in unloading all the children off the bus all the while; I had parents sitting on my rear end.

At the top of the “t” there was the circle that lead into the park, I could have turned the bus around in there except that parents had parked all along the circle making it increasingly difficult to maneuver a very large vehicle around. I did the next best thing; I pulled INTO the parking lot in search for a space to park the beast. I was initially told that someone would tell me where to park, but alas, the kids unloaded, the teachers disappeared and I was stuck trying to find a solution. I noted all buses that were lined up along the street side of the parking lot and that there was no available space there. I noted one other bus that had parked IN the parking lot. So I assumed that it would be ok to park there. I pull into the parking lot and manage to take up only TWO spaces with this monster of a bus. I noted signs along the outer edge of the parking lot that stated clearly “Museum parking only.” I secured the bus and wandered into the museum.

I notify the front that I’m the bus driver with XYZ group and they wave me into the museum. I’m about halfway through an exhibit (my one and only exhibit of the day) when an employee finds me and tells me I’m needed at the front desk. I’m thinking, “Ok, they forgot to give me a ticket into see XYZ show or whatever.” So I call the front desk on my cell phone. The museum informs me that the parking lot across the small little circle is NOT owned by the museum and that I have to move my bus. The lady also informs me that the bus is about to receive a ticket for parking in the wrong place.

I run down to the front desk and inquire as to where I should park the monster bus. The lady tells me that the buses can be parked “underneath the bridge” down the street. Now, the distance from the museum to the bridge parking area is about the length of TWO Wal-Mart parking lots. There is a marina in between the original parking lot and the bridge parking lot. Confused yet? I was. THEN the museum informs me, “Oh, by the way, the parking lot owner called a tow truck.”

Holy Shit Batman!

Panic-stricken, I ran walked swiftly out the door praying that the bus was still in one piece and untouched. I could hear the conversation in my head.

Bus Driver: Hi Mr. Bossman Sir, we’re on a field trip in XYZ city and well, the bus is sort of at the impound lot and we’re stranded.

Bossman: What?!!?

Yeah, that would NOT go over well!

Luckily, the bus was still in the place I left it. There was no ticket stuck on the door or shoved on the windshield and there was no tow truck in sight. Feeling quite relieved, I maneuvered the bus around to the “appropriate” parking lot. As I entered the parking lot under the bridge, a large sign greeted me and informed me that the parking lot was a “Park ‘N Ride” parking lot and that only those with permits would be allowed to park there. Suffice to say, I didn’t bother leaving my bus for the rest of the day and sat in silence waiting for the children to enjoy their time at the Museum. I took that time to inform my boss of the situation so that there would be no surprises on Monday.

Thankfully Ticketless,

The Bus Driver


Pissedoffteacher said...

Sounds awful. I don't do well in those kinds of stress situations. I'm glad it worked out ok.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

That's ridiculous. They should at least have had the decency to post that info.

We need more school bus drivers like you!